August & September USCRI Vermont Newsletter

USCRI Vermont hosted its first cohort of 11 learners at its new Digital Literacy class at the Winooski Public Library on September 30th.

With our partner Technology 4 Tomorrow, USCRI Vermont launched its new Digital Literacy Program last week – The course includes a Chromebook, internet connection, and 20 hours of online integrated English language and technology training for enrollees. Digital skills training is going to be essential to delivering all USCRI’s future educational programming for adults as well as to supporting parents in staying engaged with the online learning that their children are now expected to do for school. Once connected, students will start their online learning journey with Zoom digital literacy classes throughout the winter.

Latest News & Program Updates

Voter Guide for New Americans
A new Voting In Vermont brochure created by the League of Women Voters is now being distributed as part of its outreach to Vermonters with limited English proficiency. USCRI Vermont provided all the translations for the publication, which is available in Chinese, Nepali, and Somali. The brochures provide information about voting, elections, and important dates. They will be distributed at naturalization ceremonies and also made available at community centers, employment agencies, schools, social service agencies, and throughout the state.

Welcome, Sara Leming!
Say hello to our new AmeriCorps volunteer, Sara Leming! Sara is from Washington, DC and attended Christopher Newport University, where she received a B.A. in Political Science. In 2017, Sara worked with OxFam Italia in Florence, Italy assisting with the integration of refugees. After graduating with her M.A., Sara worked in Brussels, Belgium at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. She enjoys exploring new places, cooking vegetarian recipes, and the outdoors. Over the next year, Sara will be assisting us in gathering data for our programs, evaluating client outcomes, and gauging program impacts.

USCRI Vermont welcomed 21 refugees over the last twelve months from Burma, DR Congo, and Somalia. This is the lowest number in the history of the program. As always, we are humbled by their energy and drive to start a new life in Vermont. 

Donor Support & Community Work

New Grant Awards – USCRI recently received a number of critical state and federal grants to help support our ongoing case management, education projects, and client service programs. These include a four-year federal Wilson-Fish grant to provide Digital Literacy classes, Mental Health and Wellness sessions, Financial Literacy classes, and Intensive Case Management; a COVID-19 health care outreach grant from the state Department of Health; a grant from Mentor Vermont to help train mentors for our Crossroads Youth Mentoring Program; and a federal READY4Life grant that will help support our client families. READY4Life funds will help USCRI continue the success of the Refugee Family Strengthening program and provide targeted support to refugee and immigrant youth in high school (grades 9-12), high-school-aged youth (ages 14-17), and/or youth in late adolescence to early adulthood (ages 18-24).

Racial Equity Task Force Report – In August, USCRI Vermont Director Amila Merdzanovic co-submitted a set of priorities to the Racial Equity Task Force for achieving racial equity in Vermont as it relates to people with refugee, asylee, and immigrant backgrounds. The Task Force subsequently submitted recommendations to Governor Phil Scott on racial inequality in the state. The Task Force was created in June, 2020 to evaluate community support structures for racially diverse populations, particularly in light of the disparities in health outcomes highlighted by COVID-19. The first report has been released, and the findings highlight that lack of language access, a distrust of government, and systemic discrimination against People of Color and people with Limited English Proficiency contribute to challenges in finding and keeping housing, employment, and accessing community resources and medical services. For more on the Task Force findings, click here.

Good Luck, Maree! – In August, we said a ‘good bye for now’ to Maree Oddoux who, after earning an Masters in Social Work from UVM this Spring, joined Howard Center School Services as a Clinician at the Founders Memorial School in Essex and the Vermont Wellness Cooperative as a psychotherapist. As an employment counselor, Maree provided job development support to more than 100 refugee clients from Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, DR Congo, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia. Maree will be greatly missed by staff and clients and we wish her a great success in this new chapter. 

We would like to thank all of our donors, partners, and ongoing supporters who make the services and programs we offer possible, including recent donors the Vermont Community Foundation, Mentor Vermont, Whittney and Dan Barkhuff, Carol and Joseph Maulhardt, Heather Pearson, and Linda Langdon. To make a contribution, click on the Donate button below and choose “Refugees and Immigrants in Vermont” in the drop-down menu on the donation form. Also follow us on Facebook at

Your donation to USCRI Vermont helps people build new lives right here in our community. Please click below and make a gift today.

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U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Colchester Office
462 Hegeman Ave, Suite 101, Colchester, VT 05446
Phone: 802-655-1963